How to Pack Oil Paintings for a Move


According to the Conservation Register, oil paintings are most vulnerable to damage when they are off the wall. During a move in particular, your painting will spend a significant amount of time off of the wall, thereby intensifying the threat of damage. You can minimize the potential danger of damaging your oil painting with the proper preparation and packing. Doing so will guarantee that your artwork remains heirloom perfect for many generations to come.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap
  • Acid-free packing/tissue paper
  • Bubble wrap
  • Cardboard box (preferably a bicycle box)
  • Packing tape
  • Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them completely before handling the painting.

  • Wrap the painting in acid-free packing/tissue paper. At least two layers should do it. The tissue paper keeps the plastic bubble wrap from touching the painted surface.

  • Wrap the painting in layers of bubble wrap. The bubble wrap will be applied over the acid-free paper. You want to use enough bubble wrap so that the painting will fit snugly in the cardboard box.

  • Place the painting in a thick, sturdy cardboard box. Old bicycle boxes work exceptionally well for this purpose.

  • Fill any empty space inside the box with balled up wads of extra bubble wrap and/or packing paper. This will ensure that the painting is firmly fixed in place inside the box.

  • Secure the cardboard or bicycle box with packing tape. Make sure that the entire box is fully sealed.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your painting is new -- less than six months old, say -- wait until it has had plenty of time to cure before attempting to pack. Oil paintings should sit for at least several months after completion to "cure" before packing.
  • Frame the painting if it has not already been framed. The frame offers solid protection to the painting's edges.
  • Bicycle boxes are sturdy, double-walled cardboard boxes used to ship new bicycles. You can usually find one by asking at your local bike shop.

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